AMERKS FALL SHORT TO BEARS IN HERSHEYMar 18, 2023
The Rochester Americans (28-25-4-2) opened the scoring four minutes into Saturday’s contest at Giant Center but could not generate any other offense in a 2-1 loss to the Hershey Bears (37-16-5-2) following a tight-knit defensive battle between the AHL’s two oldest teams.
Despite the loss, Rochester has earned a point in eight of its last 13 games, going 5-5-2-1 over that span. The regulation loss was the Amerks first versus Hershey since Jan. 19, 2019, and just the second since the 2016-17 campaign (5-2-1-0) over that span.
Forward Michel Mersch scored his 14th goal of the season in the first period from Mason Jobst and Brett Murray. The trio combined for two goals and six assists between over the weekend.
Goaltender Michael Houser (6-7-2) stopped 30 of the 32 shots he faced, including 14 in the final 20 minutes of regulation.
Connor McMichael and Ethen Frank notched their 14th and 27 goals of the campaign, respectively, for Hershey, who have won three straight after suffering three consecutive losses. Netminder Hunter Shepard (15-6-5) made 22 saves in his 15th win of slate. The Minnesota native has allowed one or fewer goals in 10 of his 26 appearances.
Four minutes into the contest, the line of Murray, Mersch and Jobst went to work in the offensive zone. The trio had a few looks and as it appeared the Bears were able to break the puck out in transition, Murray stripped the skater and gained possession. Murray centered a pass for Jobst and the forward backhanded a feed to the far post for Mersch to hammer home for his 14th of the season.
Unfortunately for Rochester on the ensuing shift, the Amerks took the puck into offensive zone again, but the Bears forced a turnover just inside the blueline.
McMichael grabbed the puck and sped up the ice on a breakaway, snapping a shot past Houser to even the score at the 4:40 mark.
Following the intermission break, Hershey grabbed its first lead of the contest as they trapped Rochester inside its own zone.
Keeping the puck from exiting across the blueline, Brenton Maass tucked the puck down the right wall for Mike Sgarbossa. Hershey’s leading point-getter absorbed a hit along the boards and slid a pass for Frank inside the near circle. The rookie took two strides towards Houser then flipped his team-best 27th marker over Houser’s glove hand 3:37 into the stanza.
Neither team was able to capitalize on its lone power-play in the frame and the Bears took a 2-1 lead into the third period.
During the final 20 minutes, the Amerks drew a pair of high-sticking infractions, but similar to the first two, Rochester was unable to find the back of the net.
As the contest was nearing its end, Houser was summoned to the bench for an extra skater, but the Amerks were unable to stage a comeback and force overtime for the second straight night.
The Amerks continue their push to the playoffs on Tuesday, March 21 when they return home to host the intrastate rival Syracuse Crunch at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV. The North Division matchup will also be televised locally on CW Rochester.
By earning an assist tonight, Brett Murray (0+1) has 11 points (3+8) in his last 15 games while Mason Jobst (0+1) has logged six goals and 10 points over his previous 10 games.
ROC: M. Mersch (14)
HER: C. McMichael (14), E. Frank (27)
ROC: M. Houser – 30/32 (L)
HER: H. Shepard – 22/23 (W)
ROC: PP (0/4) | PK (2/2)
HER: PP (0/2) | PK (4/4)
1. HER – E. Frank
2. HER – H. Shepard
3. HER – C. McMichael